“When I got an advance copy of The Road Through Wonderland, I thought I already knew the story. I picked it up casually, and then l could not put it down. I was up till 3 a.m. reading it. The power of Dawn Schiller’s writing is that within a few pages, you are so drawn into her harrowing, roller-coaster life with her fractured family and then with porn star John Holmes, that you almost become her while reading it. There is not much separation between writer and reader. Schiller draws an unforgettable portrait of a lost, drug-addled corner of late 1970s Los Angeles and what it was like to be a lonely girl targeted by a predator in that world. The most mesmerizing memoir since Jeannette Walls’ The Glass Castle, The Road Through Wonderland is one long, chilling money shot.
~ Dana Kennedy, Correspondent and Journalist, AOL News, The New York Times, People, Time
"Dawn Schiller’s chilling account of her youth as the underage mistress of legendary porn star John Holmes is infused with the goodness and humanity that ultimately delivered her from her abusive ordeals. A classic story of an innocent young woman’s descent and self-redemption, The Road Through Wonderland is gritty and starkly honest; it is at once a horror tale and a story of triumph."
~ Mike Sager, Writer at Large, Esquire; Author of Scary Monsters and Super Freaks
Not only will Schiller’s haunting story stay with you, but her beautifully descriptive writing will as well.
This book is for anyone who has ever wondered why and how adults—or, for that matter, society—could turn their back on abused children. Schiller’s painful insights help us begin to understand how these horrible things might happen.
A haunting story in beautiful form.
. . . Dawn Schiller manages to write so beautifully about something so shatteringly repulsive. Her picturesque descriptions [demonstrate] her ability to somehow connect with the beauty of the natural world while being neglected, exploited, and abused by the human world.
The thing to take away from The Road Through Wonderland is not that it is a bizarre or extreme story, but that it is a girl’s true story and gives us a rare and haunting look into what surviving takes.
This important book illustrates the complexity of the victimization of children. For too many youth, victimization is not a single event but a process or even a state of being.”
~ Mitru Ciarlante, Youth Initiative Director, National Center for Victims of Crime
"Dawn’s writing candidly weaves through her horrifying existence during what should have been her carefree and innocent teenage years. I helplessly experienced her body, mind, and spirit being gnarled by the very adults who should have protected her but chose instead to destroy her. At times I was not able to put the book down; at others, I had to cry and hug my own teenagers, desperately wanting to comfort the girl on the pages. . . . This book is an absolute must for teenagers and especially for the adults who should be safeguarding them against the evils in this world."
~ Paula Lucas, Founder and Executive Director of Americans Overseas Domestic Violence Crisis Center
"A compelling book by an unwavering woman who tries to take back control of her life after living in a world of drugs, murder, abuse, and human trafficking¬—all under the control of one man, porn idol John Holmes. The emotions are strong throughout this well-written book and lead the reader into a world few travel and survive. I was unable to put the book down!
Though Hollywood used the real-life tragedy of the Wonderland murders to produce a pretty, neatly packaged movie, Dawn Schiller’s life was anything but neat and pretty. "
~ Susan Murphy Milano, Violence Expert and Author of Time's Up: A Guide on How to Leave and Survive Abuse and Stalking Relationships
“The Road Through Wonderland is a gripping and beautifully written memoir about Dawn Schiller’s teen years with John Holmes. This riveting account moves the reader from Dawn’s impoverished beginnings in a rough neighborhood to a much worse life under the spell of John Holmes. Drug addiction, sexual abuse, hooking and being sold for drug favors, suicide attempts, physical abuse that almost left her dead, psychological trauma, and being way too close to multiple murders: Dawn endured far too much for any teenager. This book is a firsthand account of Dawn’s descent into hell and her struggle to survive.”
~ Lois Gresh, New York Times Best-Selling Author of The Twilight Companion: The Unauthorized Guide to the Series
“Curiously enough for a book concerned with notorious pornographic film star John Holmes, there is very little emphasis on sex here. Instead, Schiller, who met Holmes in 1976 when she was just 15, details their five-year love affair, the stability he provided in the wake of her troubled childhood, and the deterioration of their relationship after Holmes became addicted to cocaine and was ultimately arrested. While in the grip of drug-fueled paranoia, he would beat her while also forcing her to prostitute herself for money to feed his habit. Her vulnerability is revealed by the fact that she spends as much time describing the way he casually destroyed her beloved Christmas gifts as she does the degradations he forced her to undergo. . . .”
~ Joanne Wilkinson, Booklist (June 2010)
“This is the grim, interminable plight of a "throwaway" teen with nowhere else to go, a cautionary tale…”
~ Publishers Weekly (May 31, 2010)
“Schiller does a good job of straight storytelling, with tasteful flourishes that subtly hint at her talent for prose without excessive sentimentality or gore. . . .”
~ Michel Cicero, Ventura County Reporter (August 2010)
“Her unflinching prose makes a gruesome story that much more compelling.”
~ Wendy Witherspoon, Los Angeles Magazine (August 2010)
“A harrowing and surrealistic story of power, control, love, and false hope, The Road Through Wonderland lends startling insight into the mind of a teenage girl whose desire for affection, meaning and love fueled her trust in a man that would haunt and scar her life forever.”
~ Eastern Oregon University Gender Studies (October 2010)
"The Road Through Wonderland is a both saddening and uplifting memoir, very highly recommended."
~ Midwest Book Review, “Biography Shelf” (September 2010)
“Schiller’s writing is gripping, and the reader gets sucked in to this twisted tale. The story is so shocking it’s hard to believe that she lived through these terrifying events. This book is hard to put down and definitely provokes the reader to want to continue to see what happens next.”
~ Nicole Will, Portland Book Review (March 2011)